Global CO2 emissions fall as power sector moves away from coal

coal imports to surge to meet power demand
Power minister has asked the states to step up coal imports as a supply shortage threatens to disrupt power output in the coming months.

Electricity generation from the world’s coal plants fell by 3% in 2019, leading to a 2% fall in carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, recording the steepest fall since 1990. The US and the EU contributed the most to the cut in carbon emissions as they reduced their dependence on coal and moved away to cleaner sources of energy, says a new report.

Power output from coal-based power plants has come down by half since 2007, resulting in a 15% fall in the carbon intensity of global electricity, said the report released by climate thinktank Ember. Coal power generation crashed by 24% in Europe and by 16% in the US last year. While the EU is moving towards wind and solar power, the US has raised its reliance on gas in recent years. These achievements were undermined by China, which stepped up power production from coal. The country now accounts for a half the global coal power generation, the report said.

READ FULL REPORT: Global electricity Review 2020

READ: Climate change will destroy half of world’s beaches, says report

There is some progress in reducing the dependence on coal, but the governments are not showing the urgency needed to tackle climate change. “Falling coal generation is not yet the new normal,” the report said, adding that the cuts may not be enough to limit gl warming to 1.5 degrees, a goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

Power generation in solar and wind plants shot up by 15% last year. These renewable sources account for 8% of the global electricity output. Renewables energy make up 20% of the power output of Europe, while the US (11%), China (8%) and India (9%) are lagging behind. An yearly growth rate of 15% in renewable energy is needed to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement.

READ: New deep-sea species found with plastic in body

China recorded another year of rapid increase in power demand despite the slowest pace of economic growth in 30 years. While the country saw increases in output from hydel, solar, wind and nuclear sources, this fell short meeting the growing demand, leading to a 2% increase in power generation from coal.

Many Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines recorded higher electricity demand that was by an increase in coal-based power. India used less coal, mainly due to a slowdown in demand. The country, which accounts for 11% of the global coal power generation, also added new solar plants and hydel generation. Use of coal fell in Japan and South Korea due to higher nuclear power production and a fall in power demand.